Tiger of the Week: Football Broadcaster Ross Tucker ’01

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Fans often dismiss the NFL’s preseason games as meaningless exhibitions, but broadcaster and former pro lineman Ross Tucker ’01 sees something different. “I love preseason football,” he told PAW, “because I know how important it is to the people participating in it” — particularly the second-team players, who begin each game knowing they’ll play “15 to 20 snaps for all their dreams to come true.”

Not long ago, Tucker was one of those anxious dreamers. He played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, primarily as an offensive guard. After retiring, he joked in guest column for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback that he was “the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.”

Tucker prepared for life after football with offseason internships in several fields, including commercial real estate, finance, and sports marketing. But the experience that made the biggest impression was an NFL-sponsored broadcasting boot camp, where he learned the basics of TV and radio. The former politics major also was ready to give writing a try. “I figured if I can write 18 pages on Machiavelli, I probably could come up with 1,000 words on the Bengals’ offensive line,” he said. Continue reading

Bieber ’04 Depicts Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Matt Bieber ’04

Matt Bieber ’04

Getting an acceptance letter from Princeton is an occasion for celebration, but when Matt Bieber ’04 received his, he felt concerned. “My brain was wired to worry,” he writes in his new book, Life in the Loop: Essays on OCD, which chronicles how it feels to have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

People with OCD repeatedly perform certain routines and have certain thoughts, impinging on day-to-day life. In Bieber’s case, he felt a preoccupation with how his teeth looked and whether they were moving. He describes OCD as an “overly active alarm system [that] gets tripped,” the effects of which can be debilitating. He suffered “an often constant assault of painful, intrusive thoughts.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Keyboardist Gavin Black ’79

Gavin Black ’79 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Gavin Black ’79 at the harpsichord bench. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Gavin Black ’79 has devoted his entire adult life to studying, performing, teaching, and recording 17th- and 18th-century keyboard music. But he knows that studying Baroque music on antique instruments isn’t an easy sell.

“The harpsichord is not remotely as popular as the piano,” he laughs from a bench at the Princeton Early Keyboard Center, the non-profit music studio he founded in 2001. It offers harpsichord, clavichord, and organ lessons for students, composers, and group classes.

Black discovered the organ and harpsichord at age 14, after a stint taking piano lessons left him curious about Baroque music.

As a freshman at Princeton, he would practice the organ alone in the vast and empty University Chapel, lit only by moonlight, courtesy of a special access key. He served as an assistant university organist at Princeton, and recorded an album on a harpsichord he kept safe in his senior-year dorm room.

Black earned his Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, and he has been teaching the organ, harpsichord, and clavichord for over 30 years.

Though the Princeton Early Keyboard Center occupies only one room within Christ Congregation Church, across the street from Westminster Choir College, the carefully air-conditioned studio holds no fewer than five instruments, each uniquely ornate: a late-17th century Italian harpsichord; a mid-18th century German clavichord; a Flemish-style harpsichord build in 1986 by Hill & Tyre; a small Renaissance-style clavichord built in 1983 by Hill & Tyre; and a German-style, two-keyboard harpsichord built in 1978 by Keith Hill.   Continue reading

Through his Father’s Letters, Bradt ’52 Reveals the Struggles of Wartime Families

Hale Bradt ’52

Hale Bradt ’52

In 1980, Hale Bradt ’52 began a decades-long project to learn about his family’s past after discovering the very personal letters his father, Wilber Bradt, wrote during World War II as a soldier in the Army’s 43rd Infantry Division.

The result is a trilogy titled Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey Through World War II that chronicles Bradt’s father’s experiences in the Pacific theater and the effects of the war on his family. Illustrated with news clips, family photos, maps, and letters, the self-published trilogy is being released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the war’s end on Aug. 14.

During his research, Bradt found some 700 letters by his father, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and was a professor at the University of Maine before the war. Bradt, a professor of physics emeritus at MIT and the author of two textbooks on astrophysics, studied documents in archives and talked to veterans and family members who had been mentioned in the letters. Much of the research was done in the early 1980s, when contemporaries of his father were still alive. Bradt also traveled to the Pacific battlefields — the Solomon Islands and the Philippines — and interviewed a Japanese colonel. Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: Freshman Seminars

PAW’s January 30, 2002, cover featured Laura Smith ’05 at the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, taking notes during a class trip for Jason Morgan *64’s “Active Geologic Processes,” one of 67 freshman seminars offered at Princeton that year. An accompanying feature story called the program “Princeton’s most successful curricular innovation in a generation, and the most popular.”

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This year will be the 30th for freshman seminars, and the classes remain popular. There are 39 in the fall-semester catalog, including Joshua Katz’s “Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble,” and former University president Harold Shapiro *64’s “Science, Technology and Public Policy.”

Tiger of the Week: Grant Wentworth ’09 Swims With Sharks to Raise Money for Cancer Care

Grant Wentworth ’09 (Courtesy Jason Graziadei, Nantucket Cottage Hospital)

Grant Wentworth ’09 (Courtesy Jason Graziadei, Nantucket Cottage Hospital)

While he was a student at Princeton, Grant Wentworth ’09 didn’t swim at all, preferring intramural basketball to the pool. But in the six years since graduation, Wentworth discovered a passion for open-water swimming and recently attempted something that has only been accomplished once before: a solo swim across more than 24 miles of water between Cape Cod and Nantucket.

During the early morning hours of July 24, Wentworth began the swim at Cape Cod’s Seagull Beach in West Yarmouth. More than 12 hours later, after a journey that included hundreds of tiny jellyfish stings and a shark-fin sighting by the crew that followed alongside him in kayaks, he arrived at Great Point Lighthouse, at the northern tip of Nantucket island.

“I didn’t sleep at all the night before … there was a feeling of excitement, nervousness, and anxiety,” he said. “I had to strip down, it was cold, there was a breeze. I was just wearing a Speedo, swim cap, and goggles. We cleared the water, and at that point, it was just like, ‘Alright, it’s finally here.’ There had been so much build-up to that moment.” Continue reading